Hall Effect meter measuring camera draw from 24V AC supply.

Hall Effect Meter or traditional DMM, what’s best for an electronic security installer in SEN’s opinion?

A: Both have their strengths – probably the greatest strength of the Hall Effect meter is that you don’t need to break conduits to measure electrical values. Clamp-on (Hall Effect) meters can measure current up to 1000 amps (a standard DMM only goes up to 10 amps). While they are not as flexible as a DMM, clamp-on units will also measure voltage and while they’ll do it with a little less accuracy than a direct circuit connection, they’re safer and easier to use.

These devices are ideal if you’re testing a conductor with current flowing in one direction – you can place the tester perpendicular to a magnetic field and a voltage can be measured at right angles to the current path. A clamp-on meter also allows low voltage techs to establish AC power delivery in nearby AC cables and outlets, including security system supply cables.

Hall Effect meters do have probes but they don’t offer the sorts of ranges and accuracy that you get from a traditional DMM. These devices are now affordable and compact enough that you can have both – we’d spend more on a traditional DMM for security installations and troubleshooting.